What Is a Panel Interview, and How Do You Conduct It?
Imagine a scenario where 100 candidates came for an interview. As an HR, you would have a lot of responsibilities to attend to and schedule the interviews for all the candidates in a timely manner. For every organisation, time is the most valuable resource. So, how to conduct an effective interview without compromising the quality? The solution is a panel interview.
Did you know? According to seedscientific, the time taken to conduct an interview process for a single candidate lies around 40 minutes (Time may vary according to the job responsibility). Now, consider the above scenario of 100 candidates. Interviewing all the candidates takes about 4000 minutes, which is either 66.67 hours or 2.7 days. Panel Interviews help to conduct interviews faster without compromising the quality and the experience of the interview.
Panel Interview Definition
The panel interview is an interview format where, instead of having a one-on-one interview with the candidates, a set of employees, usually managers and staff from the human resources team, form a panel and conduct the interview process.
Usually, an interview process will occur between a manager from a particular team where the placement is required and the candidate. The candidate will have a one-on-one interview with the manager. This process can take time; as you know, generally, it can take up to 40 minutes for a single interview. The time of a manager or HR is crucial for an organisation. To solve this issue, panel interviews are suggested.
The Benefits of Panel Interview
- Time-Saving: One of the main objectives of panel interviews is to save as much time as possible. Since the staff from the different teams will be present at the panel, instead of having different interview stages, all the steps can be crammed into a single format and thus saving a lot of time.
- Truly gauge the candidates: The other objective of the panel interview is to measure the candidate on how well they perform under pressure. Since there are multiple members in the panel, the candidates may have to answer various questions simultaneously, which tests their presence of mind and problem-solving skills.
- A chance to show the organisation: During the panel interview, the candidate can gain insight into the organisation and its employees. It gives the candidate a chance to see how well the employees interact with each other and how well they can comfortably fit into a team. On the whole, a panel interview gives an excellent opportunity for collaboration.
- Terminating the hiring bias system: In the traditional interview process, the structure is the same, which leads to the same response from the candidate, as well as the same result. This makes it difficult for the hiring manager to choose the best candidate. Also, the approach is inefficient to some extent. To avoid this, panel interviews can be used to gather data from the data integration session. A data integration session is a structured process where the panel members come together to discuss the results. Since there will be many perspectives because of multiple panel members, if there are any biases, they will be eliminated.
Yes, those are good benefits and save time and resources for the hiring manager and the whole organisation. But, all things have both sides, meaning panel interviews also have some cons. Let us explore some of the disadvantages of panel interviews.
Disadvantages of Panel Interviews
- A stressful experience: Generally, all interviews are stressful. The candidate has a lot of pressure externally imposed on them. Due to that pressure, many candidates may not perform well in the discussion. This is for the traditional one on interview format. Imagine a scenario where multiple interviewers sit in front of a candidate and ask various questions; even though it will be beneficial to get the data about the candidate, the process is most stressful for the candidate. As an HR team member, you should find an effective way to ease the candidate during the job interview.
- Hierarchy plays a significant role: In the benefit, we have seen the hierarchy bias termination due to the panel member’s many perspectives. This cannot be said for all organisations. As you know, many organisations may have different norms. Some organisations may take a hierarchy seriously. Upper management members may have a louder voice regarding data integration sessions. This may bring back the bias system.
An effective HR team and hiring process can quickly eliminate the above disadvantage. Now that you have a general idea about the panel interview, let’s discuss the best practices to be followed for an effective panel interview.
Best Practices for an Effective Panel Interview
Did you know that the HR team has the most responsibility in the whole organisation? Yes, the c-suite and employees are a vital part of the organisation? But still, the HR team is considered the critical team. You can check every organisation; whether it may be small or big conglomerates, no organisation is without an HR team. Due to that importance, you have several responsibilities as an HR team. But you can do so much as a team.
To carry out every process effectively, you need a structured interview process. This is where the panel interview helps you out in many ways. Panel interviews can ease you by taking some of the responsibility and influence off you to select the best candidate for your organisation.
The following are the best practices to be taken into account for an effective panel interview process:
1. Pick the Right Interviewers
When you schedule the interview with the candidate, the first thing to note is to choose who will do the interview. You have to remember who the primary and secondary stakeholders for the particular position are that the candidate will be interacting with daily, and most importantly, the interviewer who can ease and comfort the candidate by including them in the team.
An ideal panel consists of three-four members such as:
- An HR representative to support the hiring managers.
- A hiring manager.
- Team members, usually with whom the candidates interact daily.
- (Optional) A member of the marketing team to gain insight on how the candidate can influence or enhance the existing product
NOTE: Don’t confuse the group interview with the panel interview. The main difference is, that in panel interviews, there will be one candidate and more than one interviewer in the panel.
2. Define the Goal Clearly
It is essential to set the goals clearly on your job description page. As an HR, you should be able to mention the job requirement in the description with simple language. The best way to do that is to check with the internal employees and colleagues. With this approach, you will get an overall idea of what the stakeholders are expecting from a candidate and what they need to achieve the milestone scheduled by the organisation.
Once you get all the required information from the internal employee, draft the job description clearly by mentioning the skills necessary for the job and say the milestone clearly, so that the candidates can understand and prepare themselves for the interview process.
3. Structure the Interview Process
Most HR teams make the most common mistakes. The common panel interview questions. After some time, it can become monotonous and ultimately lead to a poor interview experience. It is necessary to have diverse interview questions and a rating system. You have to make sure that within the time frame of the interview process, candidates can answer the question that is asked.
Frame questions based on that without compromising the quality. You have to make sure that all panel members are on the same page with the interview questions and their roles in when to ask each question. Bombarding all the questions at once can overwhelm the candidate, which can result in poor collaboration and the interview experience.
4. Assess the Candidate with Diverse Questions
The main objective of any interview is to gauge any candidate and ensure that the selected candidate can fit in with the team and enhance the organisation. This is possible only if you diversely tailor your questions. For example, you can tailor questions about the recent trends in your industry. Sometimes, you can access a candidate with simple observations, such as checking whether they are making eye contact and their body language. Check how well they interact with the entire panel. In this approach, you can collect a lot of data discussed during the data integration session and can better decide on choosing a candidate.
5. Debrief after the session Is over
This is a small step compared to others, but it can be a deciding factor. As you know, time is an essential factor, and there are multiple interviewers in the panel, which results in many questions being thrown around during the interview process.
After the interview session, you can take two or three minutes to have a small brief among the panel. This discussion can contain the strong and weak points of the candidate, where they stand in the behavioural aspect, and last but not least, their core knowledge of the industry. This collective information helps to decide on the candidate.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a panel interview?
A panel interview is an interview format. Instead of having one-on-one interviews with a single interviewer, multiple employees from the internal team are gathered to form a panel. A single candidate faces the board for the interview process.
What usually happens in a panel interview?
In a panel interview, a single candidate faces multiple interviewers and answers their questions. The interviewers are employees from different teams within the organisation and will measure your skills and capabilities to carry out the given tasks in an organisation.
What are the best practices for panel interviews?
- Pick the right Interviewers.
- Define the goals clearly.
- Structure the interview process.
- Access the candidate with diverse questions.
- Debrief after the session is over.
A panel interviewer is a great way to diversely access a candidate. It is an excellent and intelligent approach to reduce the interview time considerably. Follow the above-mentioned best practices to conduct an efficient panel interview to get the best-fit candidate for your organisation.
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